Boston councilor proposes official 'Hijab Day' on Mahsa Amini's birthday

Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson drew a connection between Amini's death at the hands of the morality to police to the rise of Islamophobia in the US.

 A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran, in Berlin, Germany, October, 22, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)
A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran, in Berlin, Germany, October, 22, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)

Boston Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson put forward a resolution forward late last week, suggesting that Mahsa Amini's birthday, September 23, should be recognized as Boston's official Hijab Day, according to the official City of Boston, in a move that has sparked considerable outrage.

On Thursday, October 19, Fernandes Anderson stood in front of the city council and spoke about her worries regarding the rise of Islamophobia that surrounds hijab-wearing women in the US.

"For the past few weeks, people of good conscience a month or so from around the world have joined in the protest, the thousands across Iran demanding justice for Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died after three days in custody of Iran's notorious morality police after being accused of not properly covering her hair," she said.

"These protests in the heart of Iran have featured brave women burning their scarves and cutting their hair in the face of arrest, abuse, and in some cases, even death to show their solidarity with Amini's family and their will for freedoms and access to a joyful life absence of suppression from an oppressive state."

She continued, talking about the protests and Amini, leading the conversation to focus on justice for Amini and the other women who were killed for the crime of improperly worn hijabs, demonstrating the various ways one can wear a hijab, seemingly to prove that there is no incorrect way to do so.

Demonstrators protest following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran, in Berlin, Germany, October, 22, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)Demonstrators protest following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran, in Berlin, Germany, October, 22, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)

"I, an African woman, wear my scarf and put it in a bun. It's simple," she said, adding that meanwhile, "Mahsa Amini said, 'I'll just wrap it around. It's not a big deal, it's just a scarf.'

"You see, whether I wear it or I don't, it's my choice," she ended her speech, justifying the resolution she was putting forward.

Who was Mahsa Amini?

Amini was from the Kurdish city of Saquez and died three days after she was arrested by Iran's morality police, sparking widespread protests against the Islamic regime, which have continued for over a month with no sign of stopping.

Authorities denied having any part in Amini's death and insisted that the cause of death was heart failure from possible preexisting conditions. Her family has denied that she had any previous health issues.

Amini was arrested as she stepped out of a train station in Tehran after arriving to visit her uncle. She was immediately confronted by the morality police. As she was being detained, she cried out for mercy and begged her brother not to let them take her away. 

However, after two hours of waiting outside of the Vozara morality police detention center, her brother saw an ambulance arrive to transfer Amini to the hospital. Once in the hospital, the doctors at the hospital kept the whole family in the dark, not even allowing them to look at her CT scans.

The police told her parents that the cameras inside the van were not working during the time she was being transported. Because of her death, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that he had ordered an investigation into the case, although coroners have claimed that the cause of death was unrelated to the police.

Amini's death has gotten the attention of the international world with many people condemning Iran and its morality police.

Anger directed at Fernandes Anderson

In response to the news, one Twitter user wrote: "I can't believe you have the audacity to use Mahsa Amini's name to promote your agenda. How dare you! She was murdered because she didn't have a proper hijab.

"Hijab is not an expression of free choice. So, respectfully, consider your own birthday as Boston Hijab Day."

Israeli activist Emily Schrader also took to Twitter, voicing her frustration, sharing a screenshot of someone praising the Boston councilor's resolution. Responding to the tweet in Persian, Schrader wrote: "There are really no words to express how disgusted and upset I am by this.

This is a brazen slap on the face of every single Iranian woman and every single woman who fled from an Islamic country because of harassment and gender discrimination because of hijab. As an American, I feel ashamed and sorry."

 FILE PHOTO: Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 2, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/Dilara Senkaya/File Photo) FILE PHOTO: Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 2, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/Dilara Senkaya/File Photo)

"Boston city councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson introduced to recognize Mahsa Amini's birthday as the 'day of women's right to self-expression, Boston's Hijab Day,'" journalist and producer with CBC News Nahayat Tizhoosh said in response to Schrader's tweet. "Amini died as a result of not following the Islamic Republic of Iran's hijab laws.

"Thousands of Iranian women have been burning their hijabs, cutting their hair and protesting against compulsory veiling," she continued. "Which part of this resolution has anything to do with Mahsa Amini?"

Tizhoosh tweeted videos of Fernandes Anderson giving her speech at the city council meeting as well as the YouTube video of the full meeting.